RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Darbepoetin alfa effectively maintains haemoglobin concentrations at extended dose intervals relative to intravenous or subcutaneous recombinant human erythropoietin in dialysis patients.

BACKGROUND: Darbepoetin alfa is a unique molecule that stimulates erythropoiesis by the same mechanism as endogenous erythropoietin. Due to its approximately 3-fold longer half-life and greater biological activity than recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo), darbepoetin alfa maintains effective haemoglobin control at extended dose intervals compared with rHuEpo. This study assessed the efficacy and safety of unit doses of darbepoetin alfa for the treatment of renal anaemia.

METHODS: In this multicentre, prospective, open-label study, 1502 dialysis subjects maintained on stable rHuEpo treatment were switched to darbepoetin alfa at extended dose intervals by the same route of administration as previous rHuEpo therapy [intravenous (i.v.), n = 900 or subcutaneous (s.c.), n = 602]. Subjects receiving rHuEpo two (n = 408, 27%) or three times (n = 884, 59%) a week were switched to darbepoetin alfa once a week, and those receiving rHuEpo once a week (n = 210, 14%) were switched to darbepoetin alfa once every 2 weeks. The unit doses of darbepoetin alfa (10-150 microg) were titrated to maintain haemoglobin concentrations of 10-13 g/dl for 24 weeks.

RESULTS: Haemoglobin concentrations were maintained effectively in subjects regardless of whether they received darbepoetin alfa once a week or once every 2 weeks. The overall mean change in haemoglobin from baseline to the evaluation period (weeks 21-24) was +0.10 g/dl [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.04+/- 0.17]. The mean haemoglobin concentration increased by 0.19 g/dl (95% CI 0.11+/-0.27) in subjects receiving i.v. darbepoetin alfa, and was unchanged (-0.02 g/dl; 95% CI -0.12 to 0.07) in patients treated with s.c. darbepoetin alfa. Subjects with baseline haemoglobin < 11 g/dl experienced a clinically relevant increase in mean haemoglobin concentration of 0.67 g/dl (95% CI 0.56+/-0.77) from baseline to the evaluation period. The mean weekly i.v. and s.c. darbepoetin alfa dosage requirements during the evaluation period were 19.9 microg/week (95% CI 19.02+/-20.87) and 21.6 microg/week (95% CI 20.36+/- 22.94), respectively. Darbepoetin alfa was well tolerated and the safety profile was consistent with previous trials with darbepoetin alfa in dialysis subjects.

CONCLUSIONS: Treating renal anaemia with darbepoetin alfa administered at extended dose intervals is both effective and well tolerated. Moreover, administration of darbepoetin alfa by both the i.v. and s.c. route is associated with stable haemoglobin concentrations.

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